Willie Apiata attends poppy appeal launch

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

This year's poppy appeal will help address the mental health needs of our country's younger veterans who have served overseas in recent operations.

Around 600 servicemen and woman become veterans every year.  Many of them cope with mental trauma in silence.

The mental health of our veterans was the topic of conversation at today's poppy appeal launch.

The mental health message was not only felt but understood by the servicemen and woman who gathered at Skycity today.

Veterans, including VC recipient, Willie Apiata, shared stories and personal experiences.

Minister of Defence Ron Mark spoke of his uncle, who would hide under the table every time he heard a car backfire.

Apiata said each time he came home from serving overseas he was a different man.

Around 10 percent of veterans experience post-traumatic stress and even more cases go unseen. 

"When people come home it's easy to see when they are carrying physical injuries," says Mark, "It's not easy to see when people have mental health issues they are keeping to themselves or that they are not fully aware of".

The poppy appeal will run until the 20th of April.